Clarity on Transformation

Twice of late I’ve had moments of clarity about myself and my music.  As I keep up this adventure, I thought these were worth sharing and hearing back from you on.

The first happened at a traffic light as I was driving back to Raytown from packing up the studio from the Sally Ride sessions at Matt’s last week.  Under the red signal, I caught myself thinking “I’m a different person than I was two weeks ago when I started this.  I feel noticably different.  Older.  More complex.  Like I’ve been on a journey somewhere completely new.”  As I recognized that thought, I realized that I always feel that way after making a record.  I’ve also felt it after closing musicals in high school, and big concerts that I’d spent a lot of time preparing for.

On the heels of that realization was the Something New; that transformation is why I make records.  It’s the reason.  Not the finished product, not recognition (obviously!), not even for the sake of art.  Before it all, I make records because it changes me, and I always want that.


Last Friday night, I played a set of Tape/echoes stuff for the church conference I was at; a late-night “afterglow”-type event.  Joe Rowley joined me on djembe, dropping his rhythms behind complex songs he had never heard before.  If you’ve played with me before, or seen a friend coping with my changes for the first time, you know Joe’s brave, and he killed.  The set was five or six Ventura songs, followed by a cover from every decade of the rock era (’50s – present), and closed by “Where Did I Go Wrong?,” “Race Car Driver,” and two more Ventura tunes.

After the show, as we were packing up our instruments, Joe told me that he could really see my “true self” in the Ventura songs (the “true self” language relates to the main speaker at the conference – I might like the Quaker “inner Light” even better).  It took his outside (but now partly inside!) eyes to show me how true that is.  Not that my other music isn’t “true” – but Sally Ride, h&s, and other things have all been more like parts of me blown up or put under a microscope.  That works, and I like it.

But Ventura spilled out of me unbidden, and as I sing the songs back I’m a little shocked at how true they are, in the sense that they represent, and require, my whole self showing up to write and perform the songs.

I ought to do more playing like last weekend.  Because of busy schedules with 5*C and recording as quickly as possible, I can’t say that it will happen.  When I’m 35 and spent (hopefully not, but it’s a fear), at least I’ll have this record of my inner Light speaking its truth to love, loss, life, death, and a trip from New Jersey to California.  -h

It's A Trap Sessions & New Music

Weekend-before-last, I packed up FuriousSound and took it to Shawnee, KS, to Matt’s house (Matt drums for 5*C).  I started straight in on Sally Ride guitars that afternoon, using a different guitar pickup than usual and cranking out a nice, Midwestern, Tom Petty-sounding tone.  For a few days I just went song to song, putting down whole takes and doubling a few parts.

As I got close to the end, my amp developed a nasty, breaking distortion sound that wasn’t intentional; I think after eight months of semi-abusing it with my synth, I’ve torn the speaker up a bit.  Consequently, the planned album closer, “Goddamn,” was never recorded.  Right now Cory and I are thinking we’ll work the b-side, “David S Addington & Your Democracy,” into the album track list and still have a full ten songs but no Furious Instance.

Vocals, beginning last weekend, have been about the same; line them up and knock them down.  It took a couple sessions for me to kind of back off and remember how to sing properly in the studio.  The past three days, I’ve gone over for a few hours and done 3-4 songs, whole takes, sometimes the first one.  There are a few punch-ins with the vocals, but not many.

The whole album has a more 70’s feel than I expected, but I’ve tried to go with it.  The programmed drums are really working I think, and that juxtaposed with the guitar tones and songs themselves will be pretty unique.  When I work with a project for so long, I can forget how different it will end up sounding production-wise from most other pop/rock music.

Kibler and I are currently conniving on how to get his stuff down.  It’s going to be pretty wild; stay tuned.  -h


Here’s a bunch of new (to me) music I’ve been listening to;

From the internets:

Common Like Water For Chocolate
Sigur Ros Takk
Mos Def Black On Both Sides
Elliott Smith XO
The Cure Pornography
Sonic Youth Rather Ripped
DragonForce Inhuman Rampage

From Half Price Books – all from the >$3 rack except Songs of Faith and Devotion:

My Morning Jacket It Still Moves
The Lemonheads Come On Feel The Lemonheads
Soul Coughing El Oso
Depeche Mode Songs of Faith and Devotion
Depeche Mode Ultra
Pete Yorn Musicforthemorningafter
At The Drive-In Relationship of Command
Batman Forever
The Crow

Matthew Sweet 100% Fun
Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral

I basically knew what I was getting, so everything is pretty good.  Depeche Mode, especially Songs…, has been incredible.  I wasn’t indie enough in the 90’s to listen to Soul Coughing, so to me it sounds like really weird Mike Doughty b-sides (instead of his original band & sound, which it is).  Common’s older record is a little dissapointing, but compared to Be anything is I guess. 

On the other hand, Mos Def has been banging pretty hard in the car.  Imagine that for a second.

Under the Wire

It’s not midnight yet where I am…

Forgive my lack of blogging which is due to recording Sally Ride!  As always, it hasn’t been what I expected.  As I always hope, I think it’s something good.  I have a last chance tomorrow afternoon to do extra takes on any vocals I’m not sure of; after that, it’s tracking Cory’s parts and mixing/mastering.

I’ll be back very soon with details on the It’s A Trap sessions and what I’ve been listening to of late.  -h

This is How Bad…

…I am about birthdays.  I missed ours.

September 21, 2004, 1:09 PM CST – launched.  It took our “bestest”* fan to remind me that we’re two years old (and a couple weeks more).

18 releases in 24 months; I’m pretty proud of that.  My personal highlights include The Dimly Lit Room, Creepy Eepy, “Lunch By Yourself,” A Wind I Can Lean Into, and Don’t Let Them Take Us… ALIVE!. 

And there’s much more to come.  My guitars for It’s A Trap are over half done, and sound pretty damn rocking.  Cory and I are working on a folk-song split release.  Someday I’ll have a blues band with E-rock from 5*C.  And Ventura is always on the horizon.

Thanks first for listening, second for reading, and third for sharing our music with your friends.  Thanks for being a part of this expiriment of “what happens when we give our best work, our greatest love, away?!”  Here’s what I want for our birthday; wherever you are, celebrate somehow – with this sentence I give you the go-ahead. 

I’m going to have cookie dough for lunch.  SEE YOU-


*self-proclaimed.  Thanks, Mom.

Mirado, Five Star, SR

Last night’s gig with Tim Gillespie’s Mirado Quartet was a ton of fun, and went pretty well as far as I can say.  Tim does jazz standards with Ryan and Mike, and they needed a drummer for this show, so I’ve spent a few evenings practicing with them.

I played some jazz drums in high school, which was really just big band music, and I never progressed beyond a swing or shuffle beat and some fills.  A couple months ago, Tim did a couple cool sax tunes for church, and I used a hi-hat and bongos for that.  So when I started with Mirado, I was legitimately concerned I was in over my head.

The guys were very patient and good about counting off tunes and saying “this is a swing number, this is a latin tune,” etc.  I discovered I could kind of play jazz!  And the first set last night killed; I was much more expressive than in practice, and just felt it all over.

The second set…  well, you can’t nail them all.  I told Tim that jazz drumming is much more likely to be in my future now than it was before Mirado.


I spent the afternoon today doing demos of four new Five Star Crush songs.  We play tonight in Topeka, and tomorrow here in KC (all-ages!).  Three are kind of new territory sonically, and one is right up our alley.  Two came from practice jams, and two I basically wrote (though one of those has a riff stolen from Danny).


After this weekend, 5*C has a schedule break so I fully expect to move FuriousSound to Matt’s house tomorrow or Monday and begin guitar and vocal work on It’s A Trap.  Feels like it’s been too long.  Still, consider that Don’t Let Them Take Us… ALIVE took four years to write, and was released only last November.  And we expected it to be a one-shot deal.  Instead, Cory and I will have a second album done within a year of the first, and we’re partway into writing a third.